This time, Kobe beats the buzzer


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Same shot, different results for Kobe Bryant.

Bryant hit an 18-foot fadeaway jumper as time expired Friday
night to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 96-94 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Bryant, who scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, took his shot over Charlotte's George Lynch and fell backward to the floor as he watched it sail through the net for the Lakers' sixth straight win over Charlotte.

It was redemption for Bryant, who hit a jumper at the buzzer from the right baseline Tuesday night that would have given the Lakers a win over Boston, but it was waved off.

"It feels good to hit one that counts," Bryant said. "My teammates were a little concerned because I threw a pump fake and they thought the shot was after the buzzer. But it wasn't. I was positive I beat it this time."

As Bryant sat on the floor smiling, his teammates ran over to pick him up and celebrate.

"That's the way it goes sometimes in the NBA," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We lose one game earlier in the week with a last-second shot and then come back and win one in the same fashion. Kobe thirsts for that kind of play."

Charlotte's Baron Davis, who scored a game-high 37 points, watched Bryant's shot go through then kicked the basketball high up into the air and tossed his headband across the floor in disgust.

"We lost, that's it," Davis said. "There's no time for moral victories. We just didn't do what we needed to down the stretch and Kobe hit a big shot."

Shaquille O'Neal scored 31 points to lead the Lakers, then didn't talk to the media after the game. He sent reporters over to his locker, then walked out the door as the crowd gathered to wait for him.

Robert Horry added 12 and Lindsey Hunter scored 11 for the Lakers.

P.J. Brown scored 17 for the Hornets and Jamal Mashburn, in his third game back since missing 42 with a strained abdominal muscle,
added 16 as the Hornets lost for the first time since his return.

Charlotte center Elden Campbell played just eight minutes in the first half, going to the locker room after exchanging words with coach Paul Silas. The two were arguing right before Jamaal Magloire was scheduled to relieve him and Campbell didn't take his seat on the bench.

Campbell came back in the second half and resumed his defense on O'Neal -- which basically consisted of fouling him repeatedly until he went to the bench with his fifth personal with 7:16 left in the game.

Campbell had a costly miss with under a minute to play when his jumper circled the rim and bounced off into the Lakers' hands with Charlotte clinging to a 92-91 lead. O'Neal scored on an easy dunk at the other end, drew a foul from Brown and hit the free throw for a 94-92 lead with 39 seconds to play.

The Hornets tied the game on the next possession as Mashburn and Davis both missed open shots before Brown rebounded Davis' missed 3-point try and sank a soft jumper to tie it at 94 with nine seconds to go.

The Lakers called a timeout to set up Bryant's game winner, and he had to get by Lynch for one of the few times of the game to get it off.

"I knew I had about four seconds to find a sweet spot," Bryant said. "I pump-faked to create separation and took one step to the side because George Lynch is a great defender and it's tough to get one over him. He was all over me all night."

Lynch, who missed over two months to start the year with a foot injury, said he's still not at top playing shape.

"I could have got closer to him," he said. "I'm still not in my best condition."

The Hornets led by eight early in the third quarter, taking a
54-46 lead on Brown's dunk and forcing the Lakers to take a timeout
to regroup. It did the trick as Los Angeles scored eight straight
points and tied the game on a pair of free throws by O'Neal.

It stayed close from there until an 11-1 Charlotte run. Mashburn blocked one of Bryant's shots and the Hornets converted on Lee Nailon's jumper.

Mashburn had a steal on the next possession and fed it into
Davis for a fast-break dunk. After a Lakers miss, Davis sank a
3-pointer to push Charlotte's lead to 81-72 with 7:35 to play in
the game.

The Lakers cut it to 87-86 on Horry's 3-pointer with 4:17 to
play, but couldn't tie the game for another two minutes when Bryant
scored on a basket in which he appeared to go over Campbell's back.
Silas ran onto the court to protest and was quickly called for a
technical foul. Bryant hit the free throw to make it 91-91.

Game notes
Hornets guard David Wesley, out 10 games with a broken bone
in his left foot, had the boot removed at halftime and was cleared
to begin practicing Saturday. He estimated he was about a week away
from returning to the lineup, but its unclear if he'll retain his
starting spot. Silas said before the game he didn't know if Wesley,
who has started every game he's played with Charlotte, would become
a reserve in favor of a big lineup that had George Lynch at forward
and Mashburn at shooting guard. ... The game was sold out, just the
second full house of the season for Charlotte.